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Entries in Cancer Research (5)

Wednesday
Mar202013

Study: Immune Therapy Promising in Treatment of Advanced Leukemia

MedicalRF.com/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An experimental form of immune therapy may hold the key to successful treatment of a deadly form of adult leukemia, a preliminary study suggests.

According to HealthDay News, the study, which included just five adults with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), showed promise as treatment for the disease.

ALL progresses quickly and often kills patients within weeks if left untreated. According to HealthDay, the first treatment usually involves three separate treatments of chemotherapy drugs. While that treatment often helps patients experience a remission, the cancer often returns.

Dr. Renier Brentjens, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and his team decided to test a different course of action.

The five patients in the study received infusions of their own immune system's T-cells, but the T-cells were genetically engineered with chimeric antigen receptors to help them recognize and destroy the leukemia cells.

All give patients experienced remission, with one patient reaching remission within eight days, according to HealthDay News.

Four of the patients proceeded to have a bone marrow transplant to aid in their recovery. The fifth was deemed ineligible due to heart disease and other health conditions.

The treatment studied by Dr. Brentjens, known as adoptive T-cell therapy, is not available outside of the research setting, but does amaze researchers in its potential. Much research must still be done before the treatment would be considered for non-research use.

Nearly 6,100 people are diagnosed with ALL each year, and more than 1,400 of those will die, according to statistics from the National Cancer Institute.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun052012

Voters in California Weigh Cigarette Tax to Fund Cancer Research

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- While you were watching the news-leading story of the recall election in Wisconsin, voters in California Tuesday were deciding whether to raise taxes on cigarettes to fund cancer research.

The tobacco fight on the West Coast has gotten the attention of a presidential primary. Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds have spent almost $46 million on TV and radio ads against the proposed tax hike, which would be $1 per pack of cigarettes.

The initiative has brought about one of the most expensive election fights in recent memory, even though anti-tobacco advocates had spent just $3 million on advertising. Their effort, led by Lance Armstrong, included a parody ad that involved people saying things like: “I support big tobacco because they killed my wife. And that’s one less mouth to feed.”

The ballot question -- Proposition 29 -- was supported widely in California when it was announced, but the contest now appears to be much closer because of the influx of the ads from the tobacco industry. The industry’s campaign featured a doctor in a white smock speaking out against the proposed hike. After voters initially favored the tax by 37 points in one poll, a recent survey showed that lead had been cut down to 11 points.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jun022012

Experimental Drug Trains Immune System to Shrink Tumors

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An experimental cancer drug successfully shrank tumors in patients with different kinds of cancer, including typically hard-to-treat lung cancers, according to a new study. Oncologists said the research was encouraging, but more study was needed to know whether the drug would prolong life for cancer patients.

The study, led by Dr. Suzanne Topalian, was presented today at the Super Bowl of cancer professionals, a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In a small, early phase study, researchers used a drug targeting a portion of the body's immune system, a pathway called PD-1, which usually works to stop the body from fighting cancerous tumors. By shutting down the pathway, the drug stokes the body's immune system to fight tumor cells.

Researchers gave the drug to nearly 240 patients with advanced melanoma, colorectal, prostate, kidney and lung cancers. All the patients had tried up to five other treatments, which failed. After up to two years on the drug, tumors shrank in 26 of 94 patients with melanoma, nine of 33 patients with kidney cancer and 14 of 76 patients with lung cancer.

The drug was not without side effects. About 14 percent of patients in the trial reported conditions such as skin rashes, diarrhea or breathing problems.

Alan Kravitz, 70, took the drug for two years to treat his melanoma, which had been diagnosed in the spring of 2007. He said the drug gave him a sunburn that lasted for two months and some mild fatigue. But the tumors that had spread to his lungs were gone.

"My first CT scans showed that the tumors in my lungs basically disappeared," he said. "It enabled my own immune system to kill the tumors. Quite an amazing drug."

Cancer specialists said the fact that the drug caused tumors to shrink, rather than simply to stop growing, is an important measure of success.

"Traditionally in cancer medicine, a tumor that shrinks is an indication that you're killing the cancer," said Dr. Jay Brooks, chairman of hematology and oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, La.

To see that kind of success against several different kinds of cancer, particularly against melanoma, kidney and lung cancers, which are notoriously unresponsive to many of the usual treatments doctors use to thwart them, was also unusual.

David Grobin, 62, a retired Baltimore police officer, underwent nearly three years of unsuccessful chemotherapy and radiation for his lung cancer before taking the drug in February 2011. Now, he said his tumors hadn't totally disappeared, but they are much smaller than they were.

"How lucky can a person be? This is better than anything that I have had before," Grobin said.

"To see this kind of response in cancers that are so difficult to treat is very encouraging," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

The study did not show whether patients lived longer after taking the drug, but experts said early phases of drug trials typically aren't designed to determine improvements in survival. As scientists study the drug in larger numbers of patients for longer periods of time, the drug's success in prolonging life for cancer patients will become clearer.

Lichtenfeld also noted that early trials of drugs are intended to show whether a drug is safe, and don't usually find impressive numbers of patients who respond to the drug. To see those numbers emerging early in drug trials is encouraging, he said.

The difference in the drug's early success may lie in the approach it takes in delivering targeted cancer therapy. Cancer researchers have been chasing more targeted ways to deliver cancer treatments for decades now, in search of a method more refined than the "slash, burn and poison" approaches available with traditional surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Usually, targeted therapies hone in on a particular part of the cancer itself – a particular kind of cell or a process vital to a tumor's survival.

The current drug is a different because it targets the body's own immune system, training it to recognize tumor cells as foreign, malicious agents.

"In spite of everything we've done so far with cancer drugs, chemotherapy and the rest, what could be more powerful than having the body's own immune system attack the cancer?" said Dr. Roy Herbst, chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center.

Still, doctors remain cautiously optimistic about the drug's early promise.

"In all new studies, there's usually a lot of optimism and hope, but this should all be tempered with a dose of realism," Brooks said. "What's initially reported may not necessarily pan out with time."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May222012

Introducing Humor to an Expensive Fight Over Cigarettes

Hemera/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- “I support big tobacco because they killed my wife. And that’s one less mouth to feed.”

That’s a line from a new parody commercial set to be shown during the Dancing With the Stars finale Tuesday night, put together by advocates in California who are trying to get voters to approve of a proposition that would raise a tobacco tax by a dollar to fund cancer research.

The anti-tobacco crowd says “big tobacco” will spend up to $60 million to persuade voters to oppose the tax, compared with about $3 million spent to get the proposition approved. Lance Armstrong heads the effort.

Watch the parody ad here.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul282011

Dog Raises Over $17,000 After Running Marathon for Cancer Research

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) -- In 2008, when his new family adopted him, Dozer the Goldendoodle was the only pup left in the litter. It made Dozer kind of an underdog. But fast forward three years to the day of the Maryland Half Marathon -- a 13-mile race for cancer research -- and this pup found his way to the front of the pack.

That was the day Dozer slipped past the virtual fence surrounding his yard as the marathon runners passed by. He got quickly caught up in the current at the 5-mile mark -- and kept up the pace for the remainder of the race, with people snapping his picture all along.

When he crossed the finish line, the bewildered pup with muddy paws turned to walk the eight miles back home, where he was awarded a finisher's medal from the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Suddenly Dozer's life story changed. A Facebook page was put together in his name to raise money for cancer research. Donations came pouring in, as did the fans. He now has 2,500 friends on the social networking site and has raised more than $17,000.

While the wonder dog seems to inspire all and gives laughs to some, his run has benefited others in the best way of all. Diane Salvatore, 55, was just diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. She is a direct beneficiary of Dozer's fundraising -- the more than $17,000 that the pup raised has already been designated to go toward research that will help her and others like her.

"I don't think he's last anymore," said Salvatore. "I think he's come in first place. Great job to be the spokesdog for this type of research that needs to be done for this kind of breast cancer."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio